27/06/2012 Daily Politics


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A day for Nick Clegg as he unveiled his plans to reform the House of


Lords. Happy days. Scores of Tory MPs are plotting to scupper his


bill. George Osborne surprises everybody and postponed a three


pence rise in petrol duty. When did he change his mind and did his


colleagues know about the decision? Professor Brian Cox joins us to


argue for change in the libel laws. We debate whether Britain's private


schools should be abolished. They are a pox on society, abstract


social mobility and should be shut down -- they abstract.


All that to come before 1 o'clock and Prime Minister's Questions from


noon. With this work and Pensions Minister of Maria Millar and


Douglas Alexander. George Osborne postponed his three


pence increase in fuel duty and instead of owning headlines there


is just another budget U-turn to add to the existing shambles. Last


night in a difficult interview Chloe Smith, treasury minister,


struggled to deal with questions on when she was told about the


decision. He has been under consideration for


Tom -- possum had. When was the decision taken?


It has been under consideration for some time.


When were you told? I have been involved for some time.


He didn't take the decision, obviously. When were you told?


We had a collective discussion in due course, and although I cannot


give you the full details. Did it happen today? You can't


remember? You would hold some 10 today -- you were told sometime


today? Before lunch or after lunch? I cannot comment.


When we told? It has been under discussion for


some weeks. The Treasury minister Chloe Smith


discussing the decision to postpone the rise in fuel duty last night.


Maria Millar, she was facing a tough time, awkward questions.


you feel for her watching that? The important announcement was


families can look forward to having that August increase in fuel duty


put forward by the last Labour government delayed and it is


important. Recognising the fact that as a result of not taking


forward Labour's plans for increasing fuel, it is 10 pence a


litre less than it would have been an that recognises the difficult


situation. If it is such a difficult and


important policy announcement to have been made at the last minute


did you think a more senior member of the government should have been


dealing with media outlets? The Chancellor spoke to the House


of Commons and announced it as part of his questions, and entirely


appropriate way to do it. What Chloe Smith last night was doing


was trying to make sure that people understood the reasons for the


decision. She didn't really understand the


reasons. A up until lunchtime their text


messages from Tory whips to MPs saying hold the line, defend the


line, the duty rise will go ahead. Why did a change of heart come?


It is important the Chancellor makes those announcements. Usually


we got on programmes like this asking.


When did he change his mind? I am not privy to those


conversations. I think it is right it goes to the House of Commons.


You agreed the decision but do you think in terms of the way it was


handled if Tory MPs and Tory ministers, even Justine Greening


didn't know over the weekend, there is a change of heart within hours


before it is announced. The rise way to handle these things is look


at the effect it will have on families and making sure families


have got the money they need. It is important the government does


listen. It was a U-turn? A change of heart?


In the Budget you said you would, he said he would implement this


rise, it was your policy. Why did you change your mind?


The it is making sure we have got a policy.


What happened between April and now?


The policy announced yesterday reflects the current situation many


families face. We have friends in council tax, we have lifted -- we


have frozen council tax. We are recognising the situation.


It has got worse and your government.


But are now sit on the day Labour had wanted it. Just finally, on


Chloe Smith, it does seem a bit unfair for her, it has been said


good as bomb was a coward not coming to face the cameras himself


-- George Osborne was a coward. We all individually go out and talk


about this. This government used to talk about


having a fuel regulator. When global few -- fuel prices were


rising you would cut or freeze the tax so the impact wasn't so bad,


and when global fuel prices were falling you would freeze or raise


the tax so that you have got more revenue. You have just done the


exact opposite. Global fuel prices, they are in freefall at the moment.


And yet you cut the tax. It is the exact opposite of what you said you


would you buy your own standards, you should have raised the tax. Why


have you changed? We are trying to make sure the


absolute price at the pump is something that families can afford.


It is falling. We have put in place a policy that


will help families. We want to make sure the pressure continues to be


there because we know from filling up the family car is a great


pressure. You called it the fuel regulator.


Now you have done the exact opposite and I did understand why.


I have said three or four times why, we are recognising for many


families and also businesses, the cost of fuel is a real issue.


He it is falling. I did want to leave Douglas


Alexander all lonely at the end -- I do not want to leave. The words


hypocrisy which were used in that text from the Tory whips about


Labour's call, not the first government to postpone a fuel duty


rise. You did it during the Glasgow by-election, pure politics.


We did it during the global financial crisis in 2008. One. I do


agree with Maria on, -- one point, it is frankly a shambled. -- a


shambles. What actually changed so that it


wasn't discussed in the Cabinet? It is inconceivable you would have a


change and fuel duty without consultation with the Transport


Secretary. The Transport Secretary before every Budget makes


submissions to the Chancellor. Why wasn't the discussion with the


Cabinet? The Transport Secretary? Why it is nobody in government able


to explain what changed in the mind of good Osborne and David Cameron


at lunchtime yesterday, other than the fact they realised they were in


an indefensible position? You will be asking him to explain


that. We will.


Now a subject close to our hearts. You may think the higher the tax


rate, the more government -- more money the government will have. One


man who disagrees is Andrew left her, a former adviser to President


Reagan and the creator of the Laffer curve. After a certain point


government receipts go up, tax rates can go down. If you cut the


tax you end up with more money. Earlier I caught up with Dr luffa,


began by asking if the government was to cut our taxes, would it


increase its revenues? Certainly some of the taxes could cut it --


could be cut and you could end up with more revenue. If you redesign


your tax codes you can collect a lot more revenue by having a very


efficient flat tax system and get a lot more revenue.


We would all play the same rate regardless of income? -- paid? Is


that fair? It is very fair, especially


considering the prosperity it could create.


A lot of talk in Britain about tax avoidance. Is that an inevitable


part of a hide that world. Yes. People don't like paying tax


and they do what they can to get around it. Some of them are a


little bit sketchy, but people really focus on money. If you drop


a fire punnet on the street, but you if you come back into hours it


will not be there -- five-pound note. Taxes are very important to


people. The argument in this country has


been about austerity, the government says we have got to get


the deficit down, Labour says we should stimulate more to try to get


some growth. Where I do? If you believe the government


spending is taxed, the government doesn't create resources, it


redistributes them. Every dollar they give to somebody, I consider


that austerity. I consider cutting government spending.


Labour is talking about cutting the rate.


But they have just raised it which is outrageous. 20% VAT, that is a


very high rate. When Ed Balls say we cut the rate


of VAT, he has the support of Arthur Laffer?


It is a disincentive for people to work. The government is taking 20%


of all are put, a lot of money. -- output. What are you allowed to


keep? There was a time when politicians


listened to you, Mrs Thatcher. Mr Regan. Mr Clinton, Mr Blair,


consolidated what they have done. They don't listen to you any more.


I don't know. But I am speaking the same as before. You did have to be


listened to to say the correct things. It worked pretty well for


Blair, didn't it? For Clinton, I thought Reagan did pretty well in


the US. You prefer you had under Gordon Brown, and what you're


getting now. If you do, go for it, it is your country, you can choose


to listen to whatever you want to choose. Go for it. But remember,


you will have to leave the consequences of what you listen to.


I am here to try to be a help. If I am not a help, turned me off.


We have to now, we have come to the end of the did you. Plenty very


much. We switched him off politely. The


three names he mentioned, three American economists to take a


different view to him. You can see a longer interview on the website.


Even a hero of the free-market right thinks Ed Balls is right.


I think what we were hearing was a call for a simpler and fairer tax


system and that is something that I understand. I happen to have


studied the Laffer curve one I was studying economics in the 80s so it


is nothing new. -- when I was studying. We are trying to


supervise the tax system. Taking 2 million people out of tax


altogether feels like a simplification. In this country you


cannot really look at tax and the complications and the incentives it


brings without looking at welfare as well. When you look at the


changes we are making to make the system more understandable, and


making sure work pace, doctor left there would be supportive of that


as well. -- Arthur Laffer. And the flat tax system? The simplification


is taking exactly what he is talking about. Taking 2 million


people out of the basic rate. doesn't make it flattered. It makes


people understand the role of tax. Every time I ask you about flatter,


use a simpler. He what Way has George Osborne made the taxes


flatter? -- In what way. It is simply George Osborne was looking


at. What he is very much focusing on is hard to make sure the tax


system promotes people to work harder, promotes them to stay in


this country, so the changes at the top rate of tax as well, inspired


Laffer didn't just influence Tony Blair. He accepted that 40% was the


right rate for the top rate of tax. He knew that if you did increase


that there was a danger you could end up with last. Taxes have to be


judged according to economic circumstances. Gordon Brown was the


Chancellor then. He sat at the top rate of tax. Arthur Laffer may be


engaging company but he is a discredited Economist in terms of


his first recital, Ronald Reagan, where the deficit grew rather than


shrink as a consequence of the massive tax -- massive tax cuts.


But that was because there was a build up in military spending.


he never talks about the spending side. His famous Graf was in


relation to tax. There was a build up in military spending because of


the Cold War. If there has to be a balance between income and


expenditure. That is why you need to reach a judgment based on


circumstances. You accepted the Laffer thesis. You accepted that


40% was the optimum rate of tax. accepted that you need to have


racial judgments according to economic circumstances. To help


Maria with the question you ask or, she could have said cutting the 50p


rate, but our judgment is that is the wrong judgment at this time.


Rewarding millionaires at a point where George Osborne, however


ridiculously, is trying to assert that we are in this together.


if 50p brings in less money? If you look at the evidence, it does bring


in significant sums of money and we make a judgment that it sends a


very clear signal that those at the top of society continue to have a


responsibility. How much extra has the 50p rate brought in? About half


of what it was estimated. accept that it did bring in money?


It brought in half of what was anticipated. How much? How much?


You have to accept that even the Labour government so that tax


increase. Ulex SAT that it was bringing in income but you cut it


anyway? -- you accept that. Why are you giving a tax cuts to


millionairess during a double-dip recession? We are trying to make


sure that we attract people and industry here. Let's move on to


something else you disagree about. All three main parties say they


support the reform of the House of Lords. They all put it into their


manifestos. So you might be forgiven for thinking that it is


job done, simple, simples even. When the Bill to reform the laws


gets -- reform the Lords gets into the House of Commons today, it may


begin a turbulent passage through Parliament. It could even result in


the biggest Conservative rebellion in modern history. What is


happening? Well, Nick Clegg and his party


desperately want to push this Bill through. Yesterday the party's


through. Yesterday the party's President told this programme that


Law Lords was an appalling system of institutionalised corruption. He


did not hold back. David Cameron has promised Nick Clegg that his


party will support the plans and he has imposed a three-line whip on


his MPs. However, it is thought that up to 100 Conservative MPs


could be ready to rebel against the Government. Many are worried that


an elected second chamber could challenge the primacy of the House


of Commons. Labour says it supports the principle of Lords reform but


Ed Miliband has said he will vote against the programme motion, to


limit the amount of time given to the debate. One Tory MP told us he


would be prepared to do the same and losing -- risk losing his job


as Parliamentary Private Secretary. as Parliamentary Private Secretary.


Be appointed House of Lords works. The Commons accept 80% of the bills.


I intend to support a position by opposing the programmed motion and


the second reading of the bill. are joined by Michael Forsyth.


Before I come to Michael Forsyth, Maria Miller, if the Government is


defeated on what is called the programmed motion, on which is to


determine the amount of time that the constitutional change should be


on the floor of the House, if the Government is defeated does it kill


the Bill? It does not. We are trying to make sure we get the


right balance between debating something which is important, and


reform of the House of Lords is important, but there are other


things the Government is doing and we need that time in Parliament.


The programme commotion will make sure we have the right balance.


will proceed even if the programmed motion falls? If the programme's


motion does not go through, all of this Bill Haas to be taken on the


floor of the House, and you will have to sideline all the other


legislative programmes. None of the main political parties in the House


of Commons believes that we should be not making progress on other


areas of our legislation. Would you have time if you go ahead without a


guillotine on this bill? It will be down to members of the House of


Commons and I believe the programmed motion will go through.


I ask you, if it does not, will you have time for anything else? That


would come down to the amount of people who wanted to participate in


debates. I think there will be quite a few. We will be going back


to the old days when there was no restrictions on debates. Harold


Wilson lost his effective programmed motion in 1969 to reform


the House of Lords. He had to abandon his reform altogether.


Michael Forsyth, you have agreed in principle to an elected second


chamber or mainly elected. If the coalition agreement reinforced that


and you have come forward with these proposals. Surely it is time


to live up to the promise. Unusually, none of these statements


are true. Our manifesto commitment was to seek a consensus towards a


largely elected House. And on the coalition agreement, the coalition


said that we would set up a committee to bring forward


proposals. That committee met once before breaking up in disarray.


There is no manifesto commitment from the Conservatives or anything


else in the agreement that says that we should proceed with this


ridiculous Bill, comprehensively rubbished already by a joint


committee of both Houses. Is there a consensus? De does not appear to


be. We believe in the reform. -- there does not appear to be. We are


willing to prove that it is there by voting in favour of what we are


not convinced of as a perfect bill. We will show good faith and


commitment by voting for the bill in a second reading. Your


commitment was a referendum. that is one of the issues that I


hope will be resolved. You will not vote for the motion to curtail


debate. We will not, because we are serious about reform and we are


serious about scrutiny. My understanding is the amount of time


that has been contemplated for such a major constitutional change is


derisory. Michael has already said they are not contemplating having a


referendums will be one to exclude the public. We want to avoid a


situation where members of parliament are excluded from the


scrutiny that is demanded. You used to be a member of the House of


Commons, if you cannot get a programmed motion through, and I am


-- am I right in thinking it is a fancy name for a guillotine? And we


also had a manifesto commitment, by the way, to end the automatic


timetabling Bills. This is a constitutional Bill which will


always be taken without a guillotine. On the floor of the


House. The very idea of doing this with a timetable motion in itself


is an outrage compared to what we told the voters. What is your view?


Labour will vote against it on the timetabled side. Your colleagues in


the House of Commons say they will abstain. If the timetable motion


does that get -- does not get through, is at the end of it in


your view or will they still struggle on? What does it mean for


the other legislative programmes? Any sensible government will say,


OK, let us have the bill passed and we will get that agreed quickly.


The spill has been drawn up to satisfy the Deputy Prime Minister.


-- this bill. Most people will be arranged that the idea of a grubby


deal between the Conservatives and liberals, that says that we will


give you a permanent control than vote in the House of Lords in


return for you agreeing to vote for boundary changes that will give us


20 extra seats. That is not the basis upon which to proceed with


major constitutional reform. upset will Mr Cameron be if 100 of


his troops fought against this? say that there has not been


sufficient debate on the idea of reform of the House of Lords is


absurd when only back in 2007 we were floating on similar issues. --


we were voting. The difference between the previous administration


and this one is that we want to move from words to actions. All


three parties have clearly pledged to make these reforms. Does that


mean, for example, and I notice that the Deputy Prime Minister was


saying today that those who make the law should be elected. Of


course, the House of Lords does not make any laws, and in the end the


House of Commons is the last say. Does the reverse applied which is


that if they are elected they are able to make the laws and challenge


the House of Commons? Politicians should be elected and people should


be able to call them to account. You are not answering my question.


Members of the House of Lords are politicians. He were not alone


there. Coming back to the question, how are said will Mr Cameron be if


there is a rebellion against this? -- how upset. We want to know that


we have made the case. So he will be absent? We want to know that we


explain to backbenchers like, burns. A does he really care about this?


You would have to ask the Prime Minister. So you do not know? In


one year's time, will it be through? I think not. If the


programmed motion is defeated the country will think, what on earth


are the House of Commons doing waiting time on this? We do not one


to see the Bill die. I have grave doubts about the management of the


Conservatives at the moment. I am far from convinced that 100 people


will vote against the programme commotion. They might abstain.


do not say that we want reform to die. We think there needs to be


serious scrutiny. We will have you back in the weeks ahead.


You may have heard that TV history has been made, not by us for a


change, but by a contestant on Ant and Dec's new game show who has won


a recorded �1.5 million in a prize. The man was said to have burst into


tears. Why? Well, of course, it is because the prize he really wanted


was something money can buy, the Daily Politics mug. If he is


watching, the good news is you have still got a chance. Ant and Dec,


well, they enter every week but they always get it wrong.


We could not fit that money in the Daily Politics mug!


Can you remember when this # We didn't start the fire at...


Bitsy Mr me that Islamic fundamentalists could do with a


little criticism. # She drives me crazy.


# Like no one else. John Major is an excellent man and


I've got better things to do than listen to them all day long, to be


honest with you. We will just have And to be in with a chance of


winning a Daily Politics mug, send your answer to our special e-mail


address: You can see the full terms and conditions for Guess The Year


on our website. Coming up to midday, let's have a


look at Big Ben. I think it is Tower. It can only mean one thing,


Prime Minister's Questions is on its way. Nick Robinson is here.


Welcome back. I know you had a tough time in Mexico. Someone had


to go! Go to a beach in the hot sunshine in Mexico when working


days finish at three in the afternoon and I said, "A few


forcemeat". We are grateful that he went. -- if you force me. Talk


about welfare reform, cuts, hints about a referendum on the UKIP. --


on the EU. Can I throw out for discussion that what the Prime


Minister is doing right and is more to do with party management and


government. Getting the Tory papers back onside after the omnishambles


budget, getting the backbenchers onside before the summer, certainly


giving Conservatives something to say about what they do, what they


would do if they were not in a coalition, but remember, something


like welfare reform is popular, at least in theory, with people across


the spectrum. I pointed out a poll the other day, 59% of Labour voters


said the benefits system was too generous. Yes, he is trying to


rebuild support. There was a drop in his poll ratings since the


Budget. Yes, he is doing that. Maybe we will get a knighthood for


David Beckham? As a matter of principle! And what is your reading,


are we in a position yet to know how big the rebellion on the Tory


backbenchers will be when it comes to this programmed motion? I don't


think we do know the numbers because we do not know what the


Bill is yet. We know roughly, but no, I do not think we know the


scale. It could be on the referendum. Straight over to the


This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and I will


have further meetings later today. Isn't it is stupid to vote for


House of Lords reform but against the programme motion?


I think my honourable friend makes a very important point. We have


been discussing this issue for 100 years, and it really is time to


make progress. The truth of the matter is this, the Iraqi opponents


of Lords reform in every party -- there are opponents. But there is a


majority in this House for an elected House of Lords and I


believe there is a majority for that in the country. If those who


support Lords reform don't get out there and back it it will not


happen, that is the crucial point. It is absolutely hopeless in life


and in politics to do what the right honourable gentleman is


giving which is to say he is in favour of it and also against it,


it is hopeless. The Prime Minister said on 11th


April, "I will defend every part of that budget, I worked on it very


closely with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, line byline." what went


wrong? The fuel duty increase was a Labour


tax rise. It cannot be a U-turn to get rid of a Labour tax increase.


They put in place 12 increases on fuel duty in government, they left


behind six increases in fuel duty and I am proud of the fact we are


dealing with them. It was all part of a seamless


political strategy. And fortunately they forgot to tell the Transport


Secretary he went out and defended the increase, they forgot to tell


the Cabinet in the morning, though the Chancellor briefed them on the


economic situation, and they forgot to tell their own backbone --


backbenchers and said about to defend the old policy. Let's call


it what it is, another case of panic at the pumps. And a month


after month, every time this side of the House has proposed putting


more money in people's pockets to get the economy moving, he has


denounced the policy as irresponsible. Yesterday the


Chancellor said it was about precisely doing that, why doesn't


he admitted, plan a has failed? -- admit it.


Does he support stopping the fuel increase? Why not get up and


congratulate the Government for being on the side of the motorist


and the people who work hard and do the right thing. That is he we are


helping. I have to say to the right honourable gentleman, every stints


we came to office -- ever since we came to office, we have been


diffusing the increases. We have diffuse their increases in fuel tax.


They should be congratulating us for been on the side of those who


work hard and do the right thing. Back to the bunker after that


answer. Even on this Government's own measure of success, borrowing


went up yesterday. No wonder they want to change the exam system, the


Chancellor cannot get the matters right. Can he confirm that the


reason this government has had to borrow 3 billion of more, this time


last year, tax revenues are down, and the cost of economic failure of


going up, and it is all the result of double-dip recession made in


Downing Street? So on fuel tax he is against it


there he is in favour of it, and on borrowing he thinks it is too high


but wants to put it up? I think it is back to school.


I know he finds this shadow chancellor irritating, but he


called for the fuel duty cut. The reality is, they are not just a


economically incompetent, they are unfair as well. He made 60 tense,


but not in two particular decisions -- 6 U-turns. The tax for


millionaires paid for by the tax rise on pensions. He says he has


been lifting to the electorate, what feedback has he had almost


proposals? -- listening to. The Shadow Chancellor was the man


who put the fuel tax increase into the budget in the first place. What


we have been doing is getting rid of Labour's tax increases. It asks


me about the top rate of tax, it is wrong to have the top rate of tax


higher than France, Germany, Italy. I make this point, for 13 years of


a Labour government, in which he said, the top rate of tax was 40p,


the top rate of tax will now be 45p. Again, affect you will be in order.


He claims to be proud of the weight the decision on the fuel tax was


made, the Chancellor had a way yesterday refusing to answer on the


decision. -- hid away. No wonder the Chancellor yesterday said that


the economic Secretary to do all the interviews. It is no wonder the


Member for Mid Bedfordshire said this. I didn't see Newsnight but if


Osborne sent clearly on he is a coward as well as arrogant -- said


Chloe Smith. There is no change on the tax cut for millionaires.


Doesn't the Prime Minister realise what people hate about this


government is the double standards of them saying tax avoidance is


immoral, but it is OK when so many people are struggling to get by 2


1/2 -- give a tax-cut to millionaires -- struggling to get


by, to give a tax-cut to millionaires.


He says the Chancellor was hiding away. He was announcing this tax


reduction from the dispatch box. I know, Mr Speaker, the House of


Commons doesn't always get reported, but he was actually here making the


announcement and I have to say completely wrong-footing the Shadow


Chancellor. What we have heard today from the Leader of the


Opposition is a whole series of arguments about process. Process


about the House of Lords where he is wrong on the substance, process


about the economy where he is wrong on the substance, process about the


deficit when he wants to but the borrowing up, absolutely hopeless.


It is about an economic plan that is failing and about the unfairness


of this government. The unfairness of this government, he talks about


the tax affairs of Jimmy Carr, he is giving a tax cut to millionaires


of �40,000 per year across this country. Including in his own


Cabinet. When it comes to tax it is obviously one rule for the


comedians and another role for the comedians in the Cabinet. The Prime


Minister has spent the last week blundering into the tax affairs of


Jimmy Carr, his budget unravelling, economic plan failing, from the


country. Did you it is a shambles, from his point of view it is just


another week in the office -- from the country's pointed you.


The Prime Minister's answer will be heard.


I am not at all surprised the honourable gentleman is touchy


about the issue of tax avoidance because to have they just voted to


the top of the list of the National Executive Committee, Ken


Livingstone. It is this government that is cracking down on aggressive


and illegal tax avoidance and tax evasion and it is their party


voting for them. Sir Malcolm Bruce. The International Development


Committee spent the last week in Afghanistan and would pay tribute


to the dedication of our armed forces and civil servants working


under difficult conditions but will the Prime Minister at the Tokyo


conference next month's reassure the people of Afghanistan although


the troupe brought down in 24 team, advice and assistance will be there


for years be on that so it can become a functioning state?


To date is the day we encourage people who served to wear a uniform


to work, not something members of this House could do, but we should


remember all those who serve our country, whether in the reserves or


the regular forces. On the issue of support for Afghanistan we have


already merged we will continue with a generous level of aid and


development support we are giving to Afghanistan after 2015, we have


very much been leading the charge on that, as well as helping to fund


the build-up of the Afghan national security forces between now and


2015. Can I ask the Prime Minister what


is the moral difference between celebrities avoiding tax, and a


Cabinet of millionaires cutting tax to benefit themselves?


Perhaps the best way to answer that question is to quote her own leader


who said this. At the launch of his local election campaign tax


avoidance is a terrible thing, it must be cracked down on. That is


what I thought was the official position of the Labour Party, they


should be thanking us for getting on and doing just that.


In welcoming the decision not to increase fuel duty does the Prime


Minister think this shows hard- pressed families and businesses we


mean business about refuelling growth?


The honourable lady is absolutely right. It is his government that


has taken 2 million people out of income back -- it is this


government that has taken 2 million people out of income tax. It has


repeatedly Delworth fuel duty so it is 10p less than it would be under


the plans left to us by the last Labour government. -- repeatedly


reduced fuel duty. One way in which the Prime Minister


could put an end to the aggressive tax-avoidance schemes is to


legislate for a general anti- avoidance, not a general rule, will


he make one more U-turn and back up his expression of public outrage


with real action and legislate for a general anti-avoidance principle?


Legislating on a general anti- avoidance rule is exactly what we


are doing, exactly what Labour didn't do for 13 years and they


look forward to welcoming him into our division lobbies.


Unemployment in my constituency has reduced by 5.7% in the last year.


Can this government work to reduce unemployment and make sure we are


focusing on that type of things, unlike the other party who have had


no solution to the economic issue. What part of a additional growth


will come from new businesses? What is this government doing to


encourage teaching enterprise in schools to nurture the next


generation of entrepreneurs? It is quite clear at the party


opposite just want to shout down anyone who wants to talk up what is


happening in our economy. The fact is, in the last quarter we saw


200,000 new private sector jobs which was more than four times the


rate of growth we saw in terms of the decline in the public sector.


We are seeing a rebalancing of our economy and intense of small


business in 2011 it was a record year for the creation of new small


businesses in our country and on the side of the House we are in


favour of encouraging that. The coalition agreement stated that


the government would introduce a House business committee by the


third year of this Parliament, would the Prime Minister confirmed


to the House he will introduce it within the next 12 months?


We are looking carefully at this issue. Can I just say to the


honourable gentleman he served as a minister and a backbench MP,


already this government by introducing the backbench business


has made one of the most fundamental reform -- reforms of


the space. Backbench members are all unable to -- able to determine


the time and subject of debate, something that never happened under


No. 6, please, Mr Speaker. Gift Aid is an important way to support


charitable giving. We know there can be difficulties for charities


to collect Gift Aid declarations, for example when they are


collecting donations in the street. That is why we are introducing the


small donations scheme and the scheme will enable charities to


claim a gift style payment of one donations where it has not been


possible to collect a declaration. That will help charities in many


parts and be welcome on all sides of the House. Community hospitals


across Britain benefit greatly through their friends from gift Aid


donations. Could the Prime Minister reassure all those who give so


generously that the equipment and facilities they fund will be


guaranteed to remain for the benefit of local health communities


and could I invite him to visit a community hospital in my


constituency to see Gift Aid in action? I have visited a community


hospital in her constituency while having a holiday in her


constituency so why has some experience of the excellent service


provided in South Devon. It -- so I have some. Legal friends to a


brilliant job across the country and the money they provide for that


equipment should remain local. The gift Aid changed that we have


announced should help hospitals and people like the ones she refers to.


He has not had time to reach a judgement on the tax affairs on


Gary Barlow but he has had years to consider those of massive


Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft. Are they morally wrong, like Jimmy


Carr? Like all members of both Houses of Parliament, all peers


have to be full UK taxpayers, that is a change I fully support. While


we are on this subject, he may want to have a little look at Labour's


chief fund raiser, in man called Andrew Rosenfeld, who between the


years of 2006 and 2011, he lived in which key marginal seat? Anyone?


Anyone? Zurich. Would my right honourable friend take this


opportunity... Order. The honourable gentleman deserves to be


heard. There has been too much noise today. It is discourteous.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. Would my honourable friend take this


opportunity to remind the House that there is a crucial EU summit


at the end of this week? Which is more important for UK growth and


jobs? The implications of these massive changes or House of Lords


reform? Clearly in terms of growth in the UK economy, what is


happening in the Eurozone and what is happening in Europe is extremely


important and it is a vital summit that is taking place on this


Thursday and Friday. The UK government has a clear view which


is that Eurozone countries need to do more in the short term to settle


the financial instability in the market, but they also need to take


Meechan and longer term steps to make sense of the Eurozone. That


will involve them sharing greater powers. That is something that the


UK should not be involved in. I think we have a clear view. I think


we push forward arguments with great vigour and we will protect


and defend the economy and political system at the same time.


Every hour of every day somebody gets killed by a weapon that has


been irresponsibly treated from one country to another. Next week, the


arms trade treaty negotiations start in New York. Will the Prime


Minister make sure and guarantee that the British delegation will


fight for the inclusion in the treaty not only of police and


security apparatus that can be used for internal repression but also of


ammunition, which is vital. It is bullet that killed. As the


honourable gentleman knows, we backed the arms trade treaty and


have done for a considerable amount of time. We lobbied vigorously on


that issue. I will look at the specific point and write to him.


Friday night, three times in my a area were subject to flooding when


two rivers broke their banks at the same time. Would my right


honourable friend to join me in congratulating the emergency


services for working through the night and particularly the


residents of Crawshawbooth who came out in the morning to clean up the


village show it was able to welcomed the Olympic torch 12 hours


later? -- so it was able. I joined my honourable friend embracing the


emergency services. These were dangerous and damaging floods, cos


by rainfall over a short period time. Emergency services performed


admirably. Now we're in the recovery phase where people start


to look at going back into their homes. There will be questions


about insurance and how we can help. I'm sure he will make these


arguments and the Government will do all it can to help. Will the


Prime Minister finally answer the question why this year to date his


government have actually borrowed �3.9 billion more than they did


this time last year? The deficit that he left and his party left,


the deficit is down by a quarter. The policy that he supports is to


spend more, to borrow more and put the debt up even further. Godwin


Lawson, 17, from Enfield was tragically stabbed to death in 2010.


Since then, his mother has become a powerful force for challenging the


culture of knife crime. By sharing her experiences of her son's death


with young people. Like many on the front line of knife crime, she can


make an extraordinary contribution to challenging this culture but


some authorities are not yet getting behind supporting and


offering some funding to achieve this. Would the Prime Minister lent


his support and encouragement to those people to get behind the


issue? I were a certain the day of my support to Mrs Laursen and those


others playing such a heroic role in changing the culture of knife


crime in our country. It is worth remembering that this year, Ben


Kinsella would have been 21. I pay tribute to Brooke Kinsella and all


the families who, in many ways it would be easier for them to turn


away from the tragedy that robbed them of their family members, but


instead they campaign and show immense bravery, raising the


profile of this issue. The Government must play its part by


making sure there are mandatory sentences and we who are and have


done that. -- and we have done that. Frankly, the bravery of those who


have lost loved ones talking about it in schools can play a huge role


in changing the culture. The Prime Minister will be aware of the


horrific explosion that occurred in my constituency yesterday. I am


sure the whole House will want to pay tribute and mourn the death of


the two-year-old, and would want to send best wishes to the burns


victim as well. Would he join me in paying tribute to the work of the


emergency services that attended the event, which I witnessed first


hand, and also be contingency Red Cross service. Will he agree that


we should never take for granted the courage and bravery of our


servicemen and women? I think the honourable lady is right to Speaker


she does and a house will want to send a message of sympathy and


condolences to the family of that poor child. And also our best


wishes to the burns victim who is in hospital being treated at the


moment. The scenes were quite appalling to see on our televisions.


I certainly join her in paying tribute to the emergency services


and also wish all speed to the police to get to the bottom of


anything that might have happened here. Everyone will require answers


to what has been an absolute charge today. -- absolute tragedy. The


flood victims Facebook Page and the just giving page shows great giving


spirit. Also events going ahead this weekend shows the community is


resilient. Also, it shows that my constituency is open for village --


for business. Can my honourable friend update our flooded


communities on how negotiations are going with the insurance industry


so that they can get insurance in the future at a reasonable price?


understand why my friend Mike wants to raise this issue. I believe


there were over 550 properties -- 550 properties affected by these


damaging floods in his constituency. On the issue of flood insurance we


will work hard with the industry to deliver widely available and


affordable household insurance in flood rest -- areas at risk from


flood. Having suffered as my constituency supper in 2007, while


the recovery is extremely difficult, the resilience of communities and


the amount of public and community service that comes out of our


communities is remarkable. 20 years ago this week, the


Ravenscraig steelworks in my constituency was closed. Thousands


of steelmaking jobs were lost and sadly many of my former steel


making colleagues never found work again. 20 years on, will the Prime


Minister apologise for his party's shameful role in the demise of the


Scottish steel industry? I'm sorry for every job that has been lost in


manufacturing or very very long period of time but what I would say


is that while manufacturing as a share of the economy almost halved


under the last government, that share is now increasing and in


terms of the steel industry, I think it is worth recognising that


under this Government, the steel industry has started again on


Teesside and that is something the House should a plot.


-- should applaud. Hereford is the home of the SAS and July 19th will


be the 40th anniversary of the battle in which nine SAS soldiers


fought off more than 300 heavily armed guerrillas. During the battle,


one individual was shot while operating a 25 pound field gun, a


weapon designed for a six-man team. Successive governments have


declined to recognise the extraordinary nature of his


sacrifice. The SAS have minnies -- have many heroes but will the Prime


Minister gave his support to the campaign to get the Sergeant


awarded the posture Ms Victoria Cross that he so clearly earned?


think my honourable friend is right to speak up for the ICS. --


posthumous Victoria Cross. We are not allowed to speak much about


what they do on the record, but it is worth putting on the record the


immense gratitude of all government and the entire British people to


the risks they take on our behalf. Thinking of the hostage rescue, I


would like to do that personally. In terms of the question that he


asks, I do not think these sorts of decisions are for politicians to


make but let me pay tribute to the heroic actions of Batman and


everyone involved on that day. -- heroic actions of that man.


Is the Prime Minister bringing back all levels? What the Education


Secretary explained in detail yesterday is that we want to have


an absolute gold standard of exams in our country that are about


rigour and high standards. The tragedy is that what we inherited


from the last government was a system that was being progressively


dumbed down, where Britain was falling down the league tables and


GCSE questions included things like "How do you see the moon? Through a


telescope or a microscope?" On this side of the House, we believe we


need a rigorous system. exciting space science and


technology park in my constituency richly deserves the conditional


regional growth fund approval which will secure a vital job -- vital


jobs and inward investment into the UK and also harmonise with the


Government's own welcome and critical commitment to space growth,


will be Prime Minister please use his influence to ensure that there


is no further of for a double delay in implementation of the grant and


the launch of this critical important enterprise? I will look


carefully at what my honourable friend says. 60% of regional growth


fund projects are now underway. The money has been distributed in many


cases but I will look specifically at this project which sounds


interesting and worthwhile involving radio astronomy and


Satellite Management. These are hi- tech jobs for Cornwall and I know


that is something that Cornwall needs. I will do my best to make


sure that happens. One third of health care trust


deficit in my region is due to the wrong to suggest the entire deficit


is due to the PFI? Should not be working to deal with that situation


rather than imposing out stride administrators to cut local health


services? -- outside administrators. First of all, it is his government


to is putting more money into the NHS this year, next year and the


year after. Some of these NHS trusts like the one he mentions


have enormous deficits and a large part of that is down to the


completely failed PFIs systems that the last government put in place. -


- PFIs systems. Hospitals up and down the country, it costs �120 to


reset and alarm, �466 to replace a light fitting. They're shouting


that these were conservative PFIs but they were not. Everyone was put


in place under a Labour government. Yet again, time for a apology.


-- an apology. Does the Prime Minister agree that the way to


tackle aggressive tax avoidance is to bring in flatter, fairer taxes?


I certainly support flatter, fairer taxes and that is why we have a --


we have 2 million people taking out of income tax, a Laura Trott rate


of tax to make us competitive with the rest of the world. It is


important to put this on the record. Tax evasion is a legal and wrong


and should be chased down but as the Chancellor has sent, some of


the tax avoidance schemes that have been put in place in recent years


are, in my view, very questionable, and the government should declare


that the Revenue's' task is to close those down and make sure that


In December last year this House passed a motion calling for a bill


to make urgent reforms to our deeply unfair extradition treaties.


Seven months later, there is still no bill and no action. What makes


the Prime Minister more uncomfortable, ignoring the will of


the House for months on end or the plight of those facing imminent


extradition? We held the Scott Baker review and it looked


carefully at extradition arrangements. I would urge the


honourable lady to look at the cases that are causing concern but


also at the overall figures, where we are benefiting by being able to


extradite people that committed serious crimes from the US back


into the UK. We continue to look at this and we will do the right thing


for our country, but do not think it is a simple issue. It is not.


Would the Prime Minister congratulate the excellent


Secretary of State for International Development for


producing a flag that will replace the European Union's logo on all


our overseas aid? He should be thoroughly congratulated. I am sure


that like myself, my honourable friend and indeed probably Mrs Ben,


we got the dear colleague letter with this excellent new logo. It


shows that the aid that we send is not on behalf of the British


Government. It is on behalf of all of the British people, who I think


support the fact that Britain stands for something in the world


and stands up for helping the poorest in our world even when we


have a difficult time in our own PMQs comes to an end on time this


week! That is why we are slightly discombobulated with no idea what


to say. That will be a first! we do. Mr Miliband went strongly on


the latest U-turn on the fuel crisis, adding together all the


previous ones and going on the economy. Mr Cameron pretty much on


the back foot a number of times on that as the Labour leader went on


the offensive. We will analyse that in a moment, but what did you think


first? There were emails on fuel duty and House of Lords reform.


Another poor week from Mr Cameron. Mr Miliband had an open goal on the


shambles of the Budget and hammered the ball firmly into the back of


the Tory net. I would imagine for Mr Cameron the summer recess cannot


come soon enough. And this, a good performance from Ed Miliband with


David Cameron on the back foot. We need economic growth in the UK to


re-establish their credibility. But this from George in Dudley. Ed


Miliband is pathetic, tried to pretend that Labour are the friends


of the taxpayer, what rubbish. I don't recall Ed Miliband and Ed


Balls as rushing to demand the 50p tax rule as unfair. And this,


instead of points scorer across the despatch box, can Ed Miliband


please tell the electorate what is planned for the economy is? Perhaps


that is not the place where he would do that. Our MPs are elected


and do not have the history of blowing morality so be careful what


you wish for. I am awful careful of what I wish for and I hardly wish


for anything! Almost every week now, some part of the Budget and raffles,


does a U-turn. -- unravels. We keep waiting for things to turn, to go


the Government's Way again, but it seems to meet that this could


continue to the summer recess and it cannot come soon enough. The day


after announcing something that is hugely popular, giving people some


money back, giving motorists that of feeling hard pressed some money


back, the Prime Minister is on the back foot. Good jokes from Mr


Miliband, panic at the pumps and so on. Good performance from the


Labour leader. But he has got two open goals that he is scoring in


today. On the one hand, he can say it is a shambolic, Government that


does not know what it is doing, changing its mind. And on the other


hand, he is able, less successfully, but making some progress and he


will be pleased with that, to say that this indicates that you


economic plan is not working because borrowing is up and yet you


are spending money, which is what Labour argued. It is quite bad news


for a Government when you are doing something that most people want you


to do but then one day later people are watching you struggle a bit.


There is a problem for the coalition. It is timing. When this


coalition had its first Budget in June of 2010, it said we need five


years to sort out the deficit. Then by the pre-Budget statement in


November of last year, the Chancellor said that he needed


another two, so seven. Since then we have had both the Governor of


the Bank of England and the Chief Secretary to the Cabinet saying


that actually it could take a decade, to 2020. The problem for


the coalition at the moment is that it is austerity for the foreseeable


future. I do not think you can underestimate the size of the


problem that we have inherited here. I think that the fact that we have


to take the sort of actions that we are taking is absolutely right. I


think that is what people in the country respect, Government taking


tough decisions. But you did underestimated. You said it would


be five years and now you have changed it to seven and there is


talk from the Cabinet that it could be 10. So you did underestimate it


or you made it was. What we have got to do now is make sure the


right plans are in place to get spending under control. You say you


want to get spending under control. How much have you borrowed in this


financial year so far? Well, ultimately... How much have you


borrowed so far? What we have got to do is make sure that borrowing


is going down. So how much have you borrowed so far this year? What we


have done is cut the deficit by a quarter. No, you have cut last


year's deficit by a quarter compared to the year before. So far


this year you have borrowed �31 billion. That is �6.2 billion more


than you borrowed in April and May of the last financial year. So far


in this financial year you are not cutting the deficit at all. You are


actually borrowing more. Let's look at Labour's response to that.


and so my point. I will come to Labour in a minute. -- answer my


point. One of the main drivers his welfare. And one of the reasons


that welfare reforms are so important is to get the debt down


in the long term and cut the deficit in the short term. If you


are allowed to cut the deficit, then why is it the deficit rising


in this financial year? The deficit is still a continuing problem


because of the scale of the problem that we inherited. But you are


adding more. You are borrowing a lot more than they borrowed. What


we are trying to do, in tandem with the problems that we have inherited,


is to cut things like the welfare bill, to make sure that we have a


proper system in place. Remember that under the last Government


welfare increased by 50%. These are the sorts of things that do not


take 24 months to turn around, but much longer than that. I will ask


you one more time. If your aim is to cut the deficit, the central


plank of the coalition, why is borrowing rising in this financial


year? Because we need to make sure that we are giving even more to get


spending under control. The basic economics are there. So why is


current spending up 3.7% year on year if you are trying to cut


spending? Why is it up by 3.7%? know the answer is that we have to


wait for the reforms that we have put in place to really make a


difference to the sort of bills that we are getting through. 50%


increase in welfare reform. But why is Labour on that? They talk a good


talk but they are not actually supporting reductions in spending.


The difficulty that even Labour would face is not just that we are


where we are, but the eurozone looks like being a permanent drag


on the world economy, including Britain, for the foreseeable future.


We have another summit this week. We know it is going to do nothing


to meet the immediate demands. We can talk about fiscal union in the


years to come, even a federal Europe in 10 years' time, but as


long as a eurozone fails to get its act together and resolve the


situation, it is a permanent drag on the British economy, the


American economy, even the Chinese and Indian economies which are now


in trouble. Of course the eurozone will have an impact on the British


economy but it is simply not credible for the Government to


explain the fact that Britain is in a double-dip recession with an


attribution to the eurozone. It was emergency Budget of George Osborne


in 2010 which we argued, and there is accumulating evidence for this,


that choked of economic growth at a critical point. It is also when the


eurozone crisis really kicked off. But if you look at where the


economy was benefiting in terms of the stagnation that we have


witnessed, it was relying on exports to the eurozone during that


year even when stagnation was happening. The central point is


this. I believe the reason that we have seen extra borrowing from the


Conservatives, the fact that borrowing was higher yesterday, is


because the central economic judgment of George Osborne in 2010


was that he could cut this deep this quickly and sustain aggregate


demand in the economy. But he has not cut. He believed the private


sector would pick up. What he has done is choked off the recovery.


Hang on. How much as public spending been cut since 2010?


is the question that you should ask Maria. I am asking you because you


said he has cut too much. reason borrowing is increasing is


because so Ireland when it goes up, so the costs go up. -- because when


unemployment goes up. The tell me how much he has cut. We are in the


worst of all worlds where we do not have the growth in the economy or


the borrowing figures being delivered. You said the Chancellor


has cut too much and that is why we are in a double-dip recession. If


he has cut too much, you must know cutting �20 billion out of the


welfare budget. Overall. In terms of what their policy is at the


moment? How much is it down compared to 2010? Shall I tell you?


The economy is stagnating. It is 0.8%. That cannot explain a double-


dip recession. How would you explain a double-dip recession?


whole host of other reasons that is only part of that. That is for you


to decide. While we have been arguing, historic pictures have


come into the BBC. Let's go to Belfast, to Northern Ireland, where


we can see the Queen with the Duke of Edinburgh behind, shaking hands.


First of all were the first minister, and then a handshake that


the world will be watching. Martin McGuinness shaking hands with the


head of state of the United Kingdom. And just as significant, as you saw,


the Duke of Edinburgh shaking hands with Martin McGuinness. Of course


it was Helmand batten, his cousin, who was killed by an IRA bomb. --


Lord Mount Batten. Reaction? I was thinking how can I explain that to


my children? You hear on the television that Martin McGuinness


was associated with the IRA, terrorist group, but not often. I


bumped into John Reid here. He told me that the way he does it is this.


3500 people died on both sides of the Northern Irish Troubles, what a


euphemism one --.. If that was in Britain it would be 20,000 people


and in the USA it would be half a million and she has shaken the hand


of somebody that justified that violence. I think her conduct is


exemplary. The distinction and a class with which she conducts


itself, we should be very proud because it cannot have been an easy


murmured. I think respect goes out to her as an individual who can put


aside their private situation and be able to lead what is an


important part of the process to get to a better place in Northern


Ireland. Well, there we are. Historic


pictures going round the world, and they will be in every news cast for


quite some time. It is the fact that those that were


privately educated are disproportionately represented in


positions of power, just look at politics and the media. That has


got one public schoolboy hot under the collar. He says that all


private schools should be set down. It gives you a brilliant education.


A host of opportunities. And above all, confidence. The kind of


confidence that you need to stand in front of a camera and tell


everybody else what to think. It seems to me terribly unfair that so


many of the places at Oxford go to children that have been to private


school. I should know. I was one of I was a bright kid. I got a


scholarship. I might have got in, even if I had been to state school,


but the chances were lower. It is hardly surprising when you see that


the private schools have so much more money to spend, smaller class


sizes and a catchment area largely composed of pushy parents.


These schools or obstruct social mobility. They segregate society,


making it harder for the most powerful class to empathise with


the needs of others. And they ensure that those powerful people


have no stake in the state system so they have no qualms about seeing


it cut. Private schools are a social menace.


If you believe in the idea of equality of opportunity, in the


notion of a meritocracy, if you do not want to see so many people's


talent being wasted, I hope he will agree with me that they should be


shut down. -- I hope you will agree.


And George Monbiot is off his bike and in the studio. Before we come


to you, both of you were educated at state school. Is it much more


difficult to make it? You have not done badly. I also did not go to


Oxford or Cambridge. But you have succeeded. I absolutely. I think


the challenge that the Government and Michael Gove are grappling with


is how do we make sure that the state system does what it should


have done. How do we make sure that children are taking the sorts of


subjects that would give them the opportunities to go to the best


universities? The problem we have is that half of children have not


been taking core academic subject and have not had the opportunity to


go to the best universities. We should be tackling those problems.


I know that George feels so strongly about those issues of


social mobility. I went to a comprehensive in Renfrewshire and


frankly there are too few kids from that kind of background getting in,


not just to Oxford and Cambridge but to other institutions. There


can be no grounds for complacency. I am not convinced that what


Michael Gove leaked, the idea of a two-tier system of exams, is a


necessary sign of progress. I am worried about it. George Monbiot is


suggesting getting rid of private schools. Would that help state


school pupils get to top universities? My motivation is


dealing with the 93% that go to state schools as a priority, rather


than the 7% that go to private schools. Get rid of them to? They


have an obligation to fulfil the charitable status. Some of them do


that. I am not convinced that they all do but the priority has to be


the 93% who want to see better opportunities for state-educated


kits. They do not need to get rid of private schools to do it. I do


not expect progress of policies from the Labour Party any more. One


of the reasons why opportunities a truncated for state school kids is


that state schools are not given the resources and political cloud


behind them that they need and that is partly because the richest and


most powerful people in society can opt out. They do not care what


happens to state schools. It is in their interests that the state


schools get worse so that their children do better by comparison.


You have a segregated society which keeps state -- keeps say -- keeps


state schools down. What do you think? Look at the facts. In the


last decade, Britain has fallen in terms of its delivery of good


quality students. In maths, we have slipped from eight for two 28th.


Let's focus on what's important. Does it not reinforce the need to


improve the quality of our schools? That is what I'm arguing. One of


the factors that makes sure that we are not putting the effort and


resources into improving quality is that people, particularly those who


populate the Conservative Party but also quite a few in the Labour


Party, Bushey, powerful rich parents in general, have absolutely


no interest in seeing state schools improved and seeing the quality


rising. Because they have opted out of that system. You do not have to


say that it is something you would like to see but is very


correlation? If you got rid of private schools, would the


standards automatically improve in state schools could that of course


not. There is no way that could happen. It would not be automatic.


The parents would make sure that they improve because they would go


berserk if the quality was too low. You have benefited from a fantastic


education. He went to a marvellous goal but you want to deprive others.


You cannot win in this one because if he did not know -- if you did


not go, it is the politics of envy and if you'd did go, it is the


politics of the drawbridge. Everyone is disqualified! You have


compared the number of people that go to state schools and end up to -


- end up at Oxford and Cambridge, but 59% of students at Oxford and


Cambridge were from state schools, better than in my day. It is better


but it means that 42% are going to private school pupils to make up


only 7% of the population which is grossly disproportionate. Surely we


should try to make sure that those children get that opportunity by


making sure they have the right opportunities. I went to Edinburgh


University. I think Scotland had four of the ancient universities in


400 years. Before you get too pious... Here we go! Before we had


the Act of Union cast asunder! would you do it? Let's say the


politicians said it's a wonderful idea, how do you dismantle the


system? Takeaway charitable status. Basically the rest of us are


effectively subsidising a system that helps almost entirely the


children of the very rich. And to have charitable status for that is,


I think, completely wrong. The second thing, do what governments


do and legislate. Governments have given up legislating, but in


principle, that is what they used to do. The European Convention on


Human Rights say that parents have the right to choose their


children's' -- children's education base of philosophical beliefs.


the size of the wallet. I can see it being a possibility within that


range. There is another way of approaching it which is Peter


Wilby's solution, which is that instead of the current selection


process, you say that the top universities will take the top


pupils from every school, regardless of their absolute greats.


At a stroke, that gets away from the motivation for private schools,


because pushy parents are going to want to have their children


distributed as widely as possible. Interesting idea? I think we need


to open the closed circle of privilege at the top of British


society. Joking aside, Andrew made a powerful television programme


about this which revealed the fact that some of the points that George


has been making, that it is to close at the moment. I remain of


the view philosophically and practically that the priority has


to be to give the best opportunities to kids from ordinary


backgrounds but that does not preclude the responsibility of


universities and companies in leading institutions, to cast their


door wider than they have been. George Monbiot, thank you very much.


He has a clip of our favourite TV programme.


This moves around us in a regular orbit. In one month, why is it not


back here. The next is one -- the next one is not for four years.


is a simplistic model. You think it would pass the same place every


month but it does not. The reason is because the moon's orbit is


inclined. We're more used to seeing particle physicist Professor Brian


Cox and comedian Dara O'Briain telling us about the night sky. But


earlier today they left their telescopes at home to deliver a


petition to Downing Street. The subject, the defamation Bill


currently going through Parliament. They believe the Bill does not go


far enough in protecting our freedom to have opened, scientific


and political debate. They argue that the Defamation Bill needs a


proper public interest defence and a bar or on corporations suing


individuals for libel. Recent high- profile cases have included the


author Simon Singh, sued by the British chiropractic Association


for questioning the evidence that their methods can help treat child


disorders. And then go Oldaker, the "Bad science" Guardian journalist


was sued by a vitamin salesman for criticising his promotion of


vitamins to treat HIV and Aids. -- Ben Paul Dacre. Brian Cox has hot-


footed it from Downing Street. He joins us. What is wrong with the


bill as currently constituted? you say, it is important that this


bill is there and it has a cross- party support. It is recognised


that there is a problem. This Bill goes part of the way to addressing


the problem but our test, these high profile cases, our test was


would these bill -- would they still have prevented those cases


going to court? And our legal device -- hour legal advice says


know it would not have. One reason, you mentioned Ben Paul Dacre's case,


he spoke to Parliament earlier and pointed out that although he won,


the Guardian was left with a bill of over �100,000. Even to fight


that case, you need a lot of money. Your argument is that the


corporations have been using these laws and could still under the


changes, to essentially closed down criticism. There is a good example


of how this should work in the bill. There is protection, and a ring


fencing around peer review debate in scientific journals. There is a


recognition of the fact that the robust presentation of evidence


around ideas, that that is absolutely the core of decision-


making in our society orach should be. There is a recognition that


that should be protected. It is protected in Parliament by


privilege and there is partial privilege for the scientific


publications. We think that should be extended to the public. By


example that is used his websites like Mumsnet, where a robust


debate... There was an M E website were there was a discussion about a


claim that herbal tea could allow weight loss to happen. Eight diet


supplement, essentially. There was a libel action threatened in that


debate and the attempt was made to shut that down. There was an


interesting case with Which? magazine who presented a report on


child seats in cars and the company issued a libel threat saying that


it could not be discussed, rather than presenting a counter argument


it, so the public could make their own decision. Because of the First


Amendment in the United States, none of these things could happen


there. None of these court cases would see the light of day. If it


came to court, the judge would say, sorry, First Amendment, thank you


and goodbye. That is another debate, free-speech, it is not part of


British law. We're looking for a law Bar. We're saying that the


evidence should be presentable, and there should be some protections


are round malicious publications, and everyone accepts that. --


protections around. The threat of libel action, the competition, the


time, the cost, the public should be prevented from seeing the


evidence, that idea seems to be to be unreasonable. This became the


libel capital under -- libel capital of the world under Labour.


I think the Conservatives and Ken clerk deserve credit for this


because too often when a new government comes in, even if there


is a good idea, they say they will not take it forward. They have


taken a different point of view and we think they are right and will


support them. We have concerns reflected in what Brian said that


the bill needs to go further but I think this legislation is overdue.


Is the judge -- is the Government's open, will they listen to the need


to make the Bill tougher so that it does the full job? We will always


listen. The important thing is getting the balance right between


freedom of speech and the ability to protect your reputation as well.


The great strike that has been made in this bill is putting it on a


statutory footing, the idea of a responsible publication, and making


sure that people have more clarity in this area. Moving away from


being the libel capital of the world. One of the changes is that


the damage has to be done in this country, you can no longer get a


billionaire from Azerbaijan coming year. We have time to give you the


answer to our Guess The Year competition. The answer was 1989.


Where is the button? I have not got a button! It is under the chair. It


is too far away. I would just do this. There we go. As it come up?


Live telly is great! It is up on the screen. The button works, even


when it is not there. Brian, thank you for being with us, interesting


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